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EPA Research: May 9, 2017

Study Shows Association Between Environmental Quality and Cancer

A new study, co-authored by EPA scientists, indicates that incidences of cancers are higher in areas with poor environmental quality with the strongest associations found with prostate and breast cancers. Researchers used data from EPA's Environmental Quality Index, a tool that measures cumulative exposure to environmental factors, including air, water, land, sociodemographic factors, and the built environment, at a county level. They compared it to cancer incidences across the US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) from 2006-2010. Their findings show that focusing on the association between single environmental exposures and cancer development, while necessary to understand specific mechanisms, may not address the broader environmental context in which cancers develop. This is one of the first studies to use an index of environmental quality to assess the burden of cumulative environmental exposures on cancer incidence. Read the article in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.  

Help Scientists Report, Track, and Monitor Algae Blooms

In warmer months, lakes and ponds often go green. The change in color is most likely the result of an algae bloom which, besides being unattractive, can contain cyanobacteria. Some species of these tiny aquatic organisms produce toxins that can make people and animals sick.  

Blooms like these are happening more often and having greater impacts. Researchers want to better understand how these blooms impact human health, identify their toxicity, predict the probability of bloom occurrence, and share that information widely.

That’s where the Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative comes in. The collaborative was formed by EPA and the University of New Hampshire to work with the public, water quality managers, and citizen scientists to track, map, and monitor algae blooms. Those interested in participating can report algae blooms via the bloomWatch app, collect and share images of cyanobacteria via cyanoScope, and periodically collect water samples to monitor cyanobacteria populations over time via the cyanoMontoring program.

The collaborative effort was recently featured in the National Geographic article, “10 Easy Ways You Can Help Scientists Study the Earth”.

The Impact of Community Stressors on Asthma

Recipients of an EPA research grant recently published results from their study "Community Stressors and Susceptibility to Air Pollution in Urban Asthma". The researchers designed a study across the five boroughs of New York City to characterize what residents perceived as key neighborhood stressors. The three most commonly identified interrelated themes regarding the social and structural sources of stressful experiences were: (1) physical disorder and perceived neglect, (2) perceived safety, and (3) gentrification and racial discrimination. The researchers are using these results to better understand the effects of community stressors and traffic-related air pollution on residents and how these stressors exacerbate asthma among children in the neighborhoods.

Sustainable Materials Management: At Your Fingertips

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Those three simple tenets capture a whole world of improving our environment. But what are the best ways to handle each step?  Where can individuals, businesses, communities, and states turn to find the answers?

Look no further than EPA’s Materials Management Wizard web application (or “M-Wiz,” for short). It puts a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips in an easy-to-use format you can tailor to your specific needs. From an individual homeowner looking for tips on composting to site managers needing to handle tons of construction and demolition materials, users can use M-Wiz to find just the information they need to make plans and take action.

Anyone who has ever spent a few hours with some of the popular tax return software that is now widely available will recognize the guided format of M-Wiz. By checking off a few boxes and responding to questions about the type of information you seek, you are quickly presented with information and resources to handle materials recovery.

Explore M-Wiz for yourself to see how EPA can help you and your community take “reduce, reuse, and recycle” to a whole new level, right from your computer.